A study just ranked a six-mile stretch of I-95 South in Virginia as the country's worst traffic hotspot.

Virginians always want to be the best, but this top ranking isn't exactly something to write home about. A 6.47-mile stretch of I-95 between Woodbridge, Virginia, and Fredericksburg, Virginia, was awarded the title of America's worst traffic hotspot. A Seattle-based traffic data firm called Inrix conducted the nationwide study. While the Los Angeles metro area was found to have the most terrible traffic hotspots (10 out of the top 25 nationwide), the D.C. area was found to have the worst traffic overall. The New York metro area came in second in terms of overall congestion. Along the stretch of I-95 South between Fairfax County Parkway and Exit 133A, the study found that there were 1,394 traffic jams in just the two-month period they spent studying the route. The average amount of time it took motorists to drive just a 6.47-mile stretch of highway clocked in at 33 minutes. Remember, this is the average. They took the worst rush hour commutes and averaged them with the late-night times when practically no one is on the road, and they still found it took more than half an hour to go these six miles ... That's really bad. Researchers estimate that these six miles, if left unchanged, will end up costing the area $2.3 billion in wasted time, fuel, and emissions by the year 2026. When you include all of the rest of D.C.'s traffic problems, that estimated cost jumps to $29.2 billion.
Two other D.C.-area highways made it onto the list searching for the country's worst traffic hotspot. A four-and-a-half mile stretch of I-95 North between Exit 143B and SR-608 ranked seventh-worst in the country. Researchers observed 936 traffic jams over a two-month period and clocked the average commute time at 33 minutes. The beltway also made the list of America's worst traffic hotspots. The five-mile stretch along I-495 between Route 201 and Exit 4B ranked ninth-worst in the country. Commuters spent an average of 39 minutes traveling these five miles, and researchers observed 684 traffic jams there during the study. Both of these stretches of highway will each end up costing $1.1 billion by the year 2026. Traffic in and around Washington, D.C., has always been bad, however, decaying infrastructure is largely seen as responsible for the metro area's reputation as the worst commute in the country. However, what this study shows is that simply repairing what already exists will not be enough. If serious adjustments aren't made to D.C.-area highways, these traffic jams will end up costing tens of billions of dollars a year. One way that regional transportation officials expect to relieve traffic is to adopt the I-66 model. High Occupancy Vehicle lanes are considered a key part of alleviating traffic, however, I-66 has recently allowed non-HOV cars to drive in the express lane as long as they pay a toll. Those tolls are adjusted up and down depending on the use. Drivers were shocked to see these tolls reach as high as $40 when the toll lanes were first opened.

(Read more here about all the sweet things you can buy for less than the price of an I-66 toll)

The logic behind this is pretty simple. People have always abused the HOV lane. Previously, it was up to a police officer to write these drivers' fines, which started at $125 and would double with each subsequent offense all the way up to $1,000. However, police weren't able to catch everyone. By implementing non-HOV tolls on I-66, the transit authority can collect revenue from non-HOV vehicles, presumably more than the revenue generated from tickets.
The general public tends to frown upon new tolls, since they only seem to make their long commutes more expensive. But by opening up HOV lanes to single occupancy vehicles willing to pay for the privilege, the hope is that this will reduce congestion in the other lanes. Regardless of what officials do, they need to do something to get this hellish commute under control. What do you think the DMV's worst traffic hotspot is? Let us know in the comment section below how long you spend in the car going to and from work!

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